Chris CarterMitch PileggiDavid DuchovnyWilliam B. Davis
The X-Files Season 10 ep.1: My Struggle
Medium: TV
Year: 2016
Writer/director: Chris Carter
Keywords: The X-Files, SF
Actor: Gillian Anderson, William B. Davis, David Duchovny, Hiro Kanagawa, Annet Mahendru, Joel McHale, Mitch Pileggi, Aliza Vellani
Format: 44 minutes
Website category: SF
Review date: 15 June 2020
I'd heard it was bad. It is, but I enjoyed it. Duchovny and Anderson are the main selling point, bringing texture and history to these tired, beaten-up versions of their younger selves. (Have you ever wanted to see an unshaven, crazy-recluse Mulder? It's a good look.) The conspiracy theories, though, are laugh-out-loud.
There's a right-wing internet conspiracy-monger called Tad O'Malley. The government will shoot you for your guns! Or something. Oh, and 9/11 was a set-up. Mulder rightly calls him a jackass, but it turns out that O'Malley's also a conspiracy freak with information and red-hot contacts.
This leads to a revelation that turns everything we knew upside-down. You won't see anything funnier this year. I howled. This is the 203rd episode of The X-Files and by this point I can't persuade myself that Everything We Were Told Was A Lie (Again). We've had a zillion layers of this. It can't hold up. It's not just absurd, but transparently absurd. Once again, Chris Carter's making it up as he goes along. The Fortean evidence presentation is quite good, but the techno-oil-military-industrial complex is credited with a godlike level of power and your bullshit alarm will go nuclear. I quite enjoyed the bit where the show jumps on the bandwagon of real post-9/11 conspiracy theories, though. At least that's fresh. It can't be taken seriously, but at least it's a new angle on the show's chosen aesthetic.
In other news, the government's plotting to make you fat with hamburgers.
Even subsequent X-Files episodes didn't take this seriously. There are two questions to ask about mythology episodes: (a) how deniable are the revelations, and (b) will the show build on them?
DENIABILITY: through the roof. It's the usual mess of portentous dialogue, ambiguous medical tests and "a sinister bloke says so".
FOLLOWED UP: not even slightly.
BONUS QUESTION THAT BUGGED ME: is the title referring to Mein Kampf? If so, why?
Another strength is Annet Mahendru as Sveta. Despite the conspiracy-babble, you'll care about the girl with holes in her stomach. She creates empathy and emotional force.
If nothing else, the episode's ambitious. It's even good, if you can laugh at the absurdity. It's a big, dumb cuddly toy stuffed with all your old favourites. (This will have been deliberate. It's self-homage. Chris Carter's reviving the show after fourteen years and wheeling out all his old tricks.) It has sinister people who kill innocents and then cover it up. It forces Mulder and Scully to associate with someone who's both deeply questionable and sincere. (That I liked too. The ethical waters are complicated.) You probably couldn't revive The X-Files without all that, so it's as if Chris Carter took the self-parody bullet and then let in the other writers.
It's worth watching, I think, for the cast. There's Mahendru, but also more importantly the subtlety of Duchovny and Anderson.